Tempranillo Wines – Battle of the Regions

We see which regions have the best Tempranillo wines

The Tempranillo grape is the most famous in Spanish Wine Country. It is widely grown throughout Spain, but the grape produces the best wines in these three regions: Rioja, Ribera del Duero, and Toro. Rioja has the most vineyard Tempranillo acres of the three, and is one of two regions in Spain with the highest designation of wine quality, Denomination of Origin Qualified (DOCa).

We decided to have a blind wine tasting of six Tempranillo wines, two from each region. The requirements: All the wines must have the Crianza aging requirement, all the wines must be under $20, and finally, they must be found in many wine shops in the Bay Area.

It was my turn to host the tasting and provide the wines and luncheon. To prepare, I visited several wine shops and purchased 12 wines which I had tasted over the past years. I have visited all three wine regions, so I am very familiar with the best wine producers in each region. After weeks of tasting the 12 wines with meals, I chose six wines for the tasting.

About Rioja, Ribera de Duero, and Toro

Rioja

Tempranillo wines from Rioja, Spain, are renowned for their elegance and aging potential. Known for their vibrant acidity and balanced tannins, Rioja Tempranillos often display flavors of red berries, vanilla, and oak. Rioja wineries often blend their Tempranillo wines with small amounts of Garnacha and Mazuelo. The Rioja wine region is in northern Spain, primarily within the autonomous community of La Rioja. The central city in Rioja wine country is Logroño. Logroño is about a 4-hour drive north of Madrid.

Ribera del Duero

This region is about 100 miles north of Madrid. The Tempranillo grape is called Tinto Fino or Tinto de Pais. The Tempranillo grapes, grown in this high-altitude region along the Duero River, produce wines with intense flavors of dark berries, plum, and hints of vanilla. Ribera del Duero Tempranillos are characterized by their robust structure, firm tannins, and excellent aging potential. These wines showcase the region’s unique terroir, offering a powerful and elegant expression of the Tempranillo grape.

Toro

Toro, situated in Spain’s Castilla y León region, produces distinctive Tempranillo wines, celebrated for their bold and robust character. The local variety, often called “Tinta de Toro,” thrives in the region’s arid climate and high-altitude vineyards along the Duero River. Toro Tempranillo wines are known for their deep color, intense dark fruit flavors, and robust tannins. These wines captivate enthusiasts with their powerful and full-bodied nature, showcasing the Toro appellation’s unique terroir and winemaking expertise. The city of Toro is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Madrid in the northeastern direction.

The Results of Our Blind Tasting

Condado De Haza captures our highest rating

We list the wines in order of our scoring, the price, and where to buy

First Place
2019 Condado De Haza Crianza Ribera del Duero
Costco $14.99, Draeger’s $23.99
100% Tempranillo. Alcohol 14.5%
Wine Enthusiast 93 Points; Spanish wine critic, Guia Penin 90 Points

There was a three-way tie for second place.

2020 Cune Crianza Rioja
$11.99 Bottle Barn, $12.90 Wine Stop in Burlingame, $12.99 Total Wine
85% Tempranillo, 15% Garnacha & Mazuelo. Alcohol 14%
James Suckling 91 Points

2019 Bodegas Ordonez Triton Tinta de Toro
Bottle Barn $13.99, BevMo $21.99
100% Tempranillo. Alcohol 15%.
James Suckling 92 Points, Jeb Dunnuck 92 points

2019 Numanthia Termes Toro
SF Wine Trading Company $19.94, Elsewhere $23
100% Tempranillo. Alcohol 15.5%
James Sucking 93 Points, Guia Penin 93 Points, W.S. 91 Points.

5th Place
2016 Vina Gormaz Ribera del Duero
Spanish Table $17.99
100% Tempranillo. Alcohol 14.5%
Guia Penin 92 Points, James Suckling 92 Points, W.E. 92 Points

6th Place
2019 Lan Crianza Rioja
$14.99 Weimax Wines
93% Tempranillo, 5% Garnacha, 2% Mazuelo. Alcohol 13.5%
Wine Spectator 89 Points

The wines were close in scoring, with only two points separating the top four wines. I had previously reviewed the 2019 Condado De Haza Crianza Ribera del Duero. As of late, I have not seen the wine at my local Costco. My fear is that it is no longer available and sold out. We certainly hope that the 2020 vintage will soon be on the shelves of Costco stores.

Cune Tempranillo Crianza Rioja
The lovely Cune Crianza Tempranillo

The 2020 Cune is certainly in the Best Buy category. It is widely available for $12 to $13. The two Toro wines have the most robust flavors, both full-bodied wines with plenty of punch in the mouth. From the tasting, we learned that Spanish wines offer the biggest bang-for-the-buck. Take a look at the prices and the scores. Spanish wines are trending.

Luncheon Menu

TapasStuffed Piquillo Peppers with Goat Cheese, Trader Joe’s Spanish Tapas three-cheese slices, and Spanish Olives – Manzanilla stuffed with Piquillo pepper

Main – Paella is cooked on a paella burner with Spanish chorizo, chicken pieces, flat beans, and mussels.

DessertSpanish Strawberry Cake, Bizcocho De Fresa served with vanilla ice cream

Piquillo peppers – Tapa delight
Paella and Tempranillo – the perfect match
Bizcocho De Fresa

Comments

  1. Mike Beltran says

    Not only great photos but a stunning lunch. Each wine was very well made and a solid example of Temperanillo. Our tasting group has many outstanding cooks who show their wares when they host. A model for any tasting group.

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